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Tuesday, 15 October 1974
Page: 1718

The PRESIDENT - I understand the honourable senator to be referring to copious notes.

Senator KEEFFE -Thank you, Mr President. I said at the outset that there were certain controversial things which I proposed to read into the record so that people like Senator Sheil and others would not be able to say something tomorrow about what I did not say tonight. That is the reason why I have done it.

Senator Sir Magnus Cormack - I raise a point of order, Mr President. It is quite true that a previous President ruled that a senator may speak from copious notes. What he meant by that was that the senator could refer to copious notes. He did not say that the senator may read his speech.

The Senate Standing Orders say that a senator may not read his speech. Senator Keeffe, from the moment when he rose to his feet, has been reading something and no honourable senator knows whether it is Senator Keeffe 's thoughts or something that somebody else has written for him. Therefore, Mr President, I request, on a point of order, that the honourable senator address the Senate in terms of his own thoughts and not somebody else 's.

The PRESIDENT - I would take it that the honourable senator is referring to a document and that at some later time he will continue with his speech.

Senator KEEFFE -Thank you, Mr President. For the benefit of the honourable senator who just rose on a point of order I would point out that I have been referring to this document, as I said at the outset I would do. Senator Sir Magnus Cormack would know that over the years I have been one of those people in this chamber who are able to speak without copious notes. I should like to point out that no member of the Australian Country Party sitting in this chamber is able to make a speech unless he reads it, and that at all times the speech has been written for that member of the Country Party. I might point out to Senator Sir Magnus Cormack that in the days when he occupied the Chair he allowed those honourable senators to get away with it.

Mr President,I again refer to what I was saying previously. I had mentioned that life was very much harder for those who were detected with a knife, and that in addition to the complaints that have been lodged with me other statements have been made to representatives of the Aboriginal and Islanders Legal Service. I pointed this out at the time and it emphasised the point that I had made earlier. If Senator Sir Magnus Cormack looks at me now he will realise that I am not reading a speech. I said that Aborigines were getting a worse time than most other members of the community and I repeat that with emphasis mostly for the benefit of Sir Magnus Cormack.

I am not making accusations against those who are responsible for the administration of Queensland gaols but I am saying that the system is rotten from the top, and this is where the trouble is. There are people in charge of gaol administration in Queensland who do not have the moral courage- and apparently with 19 per cent of the vote in Queensland do not have the legal right- to carry out proper reforms. I bitterly accuse the State Government and the top people in charge of our prison system of living in the last century, and if Senator Sir Magnus Cormack wants to make something of that he too is living in the last century. Men and women who offend against the laws of society, as we accept them, must pay for their social sins but we have no right in a so-called civilised society to treat those who have been deprived of their liberty and personal freedom with physical punishment and undignified procedures that label them as less than animals. If any member on the Opposition benches wants to keep that sort of prison system going he is welcome to it, and the sooner he participates in it as a prisoner the better. Those in charge of the prison system in Queensland should be prepared to face a wide-open public inquiry and all prisoners and others who are prepared to testify should have their rights fully protected. If the Premier- and I am referring to my good, close, personal friend, Holy Joh- and his Cabinet evade the issue they should be prepared to hand over the whole prison system in Queensland to the Australian Government, and those who have been accused by society will then at least be sure of justice.

That is all I am asking for. I am asking the Attorney-General to examine the possibility in those 2 areas to which I have specifically referred. I am not accusing the people who are caught up in the punishment system in Queensland and who are forced to administer it but I am accusing those who are responsible for the administration. In particular, I accuse the Premier and his Cabinet of meting out less than justice to those who are deprived of their personal freedom.

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